Life-and-Death Quest

The quest of a person’s life defines that person, who he or she is. And every human being is on a quest whether they know it or not. This is because God has made us this way. He has put into our hearts a dissatisfaction with life lived solely of ourselves, and we will not be rid of this dissatisfaction until we find him as the true source and purpose of our lives.

“He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Eccl. 3:11 NIV).

“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Rom. 8:20-22 NIV).

We groan and travail for something more in life than mere existence. We need purpose and meaning and fulfillment–none of which comes naturally simply from existence, or else why do we yearn for something more? Though there is much to be enjoyed in life, even in its simplest pleasures, God has seen to it that the human heart is not satisfied soley by what can be enjoyed in our natural being. That is because we have a spirit within us that is created by a supernatural Being, and our being has a deep desire to relate to that Being who transcends the natural, created world.

The great tragedy and evil of the materialist and evolutionist worldview is that those adhering to it believe that nothing exists but the material, physical world and that we must find all we need there and nowhere else. They do not realize that they have condemned themselves to a lesser life by cutting themselves off from the deeper part of life that is found in God alone.

But the wise person knows that there is more to life than simply what is seen or measured. How do you measure joy or love? And so we search for that mystical, unseen something that is either missing or incomplete in our natural lives. Our lives are a quest for that which would fulfill us, complete that God-shaped hole within us. And just like that child’s toy that has differently shaped holes to match the pegs, only one peg fits the hole for which it was made. Only God can satisfy the longing in us for that God-shaped hole he made in our heart.

But not everyone knows this. They feel that missing element in their lives, but they are unaware that only God can fill that void within. And so they go off on a quest to find something to fill that hole, to find fulfillment. It is one of the great tragedies of life that so many reject the one answer to that empty place in their heart, while searching everywhere else for it.

“This only have I found: God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes” (Eccl. 7:29 NIV).

It is wisdom to know that there does exist that empty place in our heart, but all depends on how and where we search for that which would fill that void. Regarding this quest, Scripture says of wisdom:

“Whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death” (Prov. 8:35,36 NIV).

Strong words, these. Three aspects stand out in them. First, we are told that it is wisdom to search and to find true life. Those who do this receive favor from the Lord.

Second, failure to find wisdom brings harm to one’s self. How extreme is that harm is seen by the concluding words, the third aspect.

Third, so serious is this quest that failure in it leads to harm in this life, while rejection of God’s answer to the quest leads to the worst harm of all, death.

It is more than interesting to connect a passage from the New Testament with this passage from the Old Testament. In 1 Cor. 1:30 we read of Christ Jesus that he is the one “whom God made our wisdom.” Substituting the name of Jesus into the places where the Proverbs passage speaks of wisdom, we have this:

“Whoever finds Jesus finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But whoever fails to find Jesus harms himself; all who hate Jesus love death.”

Now, of course, we know from numerous scriptures that even though we think that we are the ones on this quest, it is really Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who is searching for us.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Lk. 19:10 NIV).

Nevertheless, it is also true that we have a part to play in letting him find us. For we have been given free will and the power to remove ourselves from the flock that God is gathering to himself in this world. So it is also correct to say that we are truly on a quest to find God, just as he seeks to find us. We must want to be found. It is one thing for a sheep to stray from the flock; it is another when it deliberately seeks to hide itself from the shepherd seeking it to bring it to safety.

What, then, of this quest? Will it be successful? Can the person who does not yet know God really “find him”? Yes, God himself guarantees it–with one important qualification.

Again, the words of Proverbs which speak of wisdom apply as well to Jesus:

“Those who seek me find me” (Prov. 8:17 NIV).

And regarding that extremely important qualification, God says of himself:

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13 NIV).

That is that important qualification for success for one’s quest to “find” God: It must be done with all one’s heart. For God is satisfied with nothing less. In the instructions God gave to his people for offering sacrifices in the Old Testament, there was always the stipulation that such animals must be without defect, the best they had to offer. Their offering must reflect the heart of the one giving that offering. Nothing less than the best must be offered to God.

God does not change. He still wants the best from us. The best we have to offer him is that which is most precious to us, our own heart, soul, the very being that we are. Nothing less will satisfy him. It is not that even this supreme offering is good enough to offer to God, only that he must have our whole heart in order for him to make it good enough for himself. Jesus is the way (Jn. 14:6) through which God cleanses one who would come to him. But he must have that whole heart offered to be cleansed; holding back a part of who we are to God will not suffice. A partially cleansed heart cannot enter heaven. That is why God says that we will find him “when you seek me with all your heart.”

“If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (Jn. 7:17 NIV).

“Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me” (John 6:45 NIV).

Every human heart is on a quest, to find purpose and meaning and life in our human existence. Jesus is the answer to that quest–and he is the only true answer. For he has said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6 NIV). Once we come to Jesus, our quest for truth and life is over. But where one quest ends another begins. Once we come to Jesus, a whole galaxy of new realms open up to us and we begin to grow in the Lord, eagerly journeying on a multitude of new quests, as we come to know the infinite God better and better.

God is love (1 Jn. 4:16), and we are told in Scripture to “make love your great quest” (1 Cor. 14:1 MLB). Praise the Lord that when we do this, he rewards our quest with himself, the answer to our quest.

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